To be an effective parent, it’s important to balance caring for your children, working, and caring for yourself. How can you do that, and is it really possible?

Factors that may contribute to being out of balance:

  • You don’t feel you have the right to attend to your needs because your parents didn’t.
  • You’re not working full time or you’re a stay-at-home parent so you feel you can’t spend money on a babysitter to go to the gym.
  • If you’re working you feel guilty taking any time for yourself since you don’t see your family as much as you would like.
  • You feel pressure from others or your inner taskmaster to do more or to be perfect.
  • It’s hard for you to set limits on your children’s demands, especially if you’re working and don’t want them to be angry with you.
  • You don’t have enough support from family or friends. Perhaps you have trouble asking for help, or you haven’t had time to make friends.
  • If you’re a single parent you don’t feel you have time or energy for romance. If you have a partner or spouse you may be out of practice being intimate.

Tips to balance the scales:

  • Understand your temperament, and look more objectively at your needs. If you’re slow-to-adapt or sensitive take time to transition from work to home. Sit in the car and reflect on your day before you go in the house.
  • If you’re the active or intense type, chances are you need more time for exercise. Figure out ways to incorporate activity into the time you spend with your kids. When you’re pooped-out, try taking a walk. It may just help you feel better.
  • Observe the way things work at your house. How do you spend your time? What are the time drains?
  • Keep a journal and clarify your needs. Figure out your likes, dislikes, and priorities.
  • Visualize how you would like things to be. Maybe you see your wife feeling relaxed and spending time with you, or your husband doing more late night comforting if the baby wakes up.
  • Say no to extra work, or spending time with people you don’t enjoy.
  • Have family meetings to express your feelings and thoughts, establish goals, and listen to the needs of your family.
  • Focus on your strengths, and abilities.
  • When you’re with your kids give them quality attention! Ah yes, put the cell phone down.

Reach out to other parents. Building community is a gift for you and your children, and a way to find your balance.

Nurse Rona is the host of Childhood Matters radio show, a nurse for 44 years, a temperament specialist, and a parent educator. To hear previous shows, go to www.childhoodmatters.org, and tune in Sundays 7-8AM on 98.1 KISSFM.